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France: Other European nations to deploy troops to C. Africa

France: Other European nations to deploy troops to C. Africa

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Published : 2013-12-18 20:12
Updated : 2013-12-18 20:12

BANGUI (AFP) ― France has said other European nations would send troops to the Central African Republic to prop up a military force on the ground attempting to disarm warring militias.

Paris had urged its European partners to pitch in and help its 1,600 troops on the ground who are battling to restore security after two weeks of fighting largely between Christians and Muslims.

The explosion of sectarian violence, after months of crisis sparked by a March coup, has forced 210,000 people from their homes in the capital Bangui alone, according to the U.N.

“We will soon have troops on the ground provided by our European colleagues,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris on Tuesday, without naming the countries.

He has previously said Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium were already helping with logistics.

In Brussels, a Belgian military source said on condition of anonymity that the government was also considering the dispatch of some 150 troops for “a protection mission,” possibly to secure airports.

The Spanish government, meanwhile, has backed plans to send a Hercules military transport aircraft with a “maintenance and support unit” of up to 60 personnel, subject to parliamentary approval. But it is not likely to include combat troops.

It is as yet unclear whether other countries will also be assisting France on the ground.

Washington has also showed its support, and will this week complete an airlift of some 850 Burundians into the country to form part of an eventual 6,000-strong African Union force known as MISCA.

The United States has pledged some $100 million in funding to MISCA.

“We‘re deeply concerned by the horrific violence across Central African Republic, particularly the increasingly sectarian nature of the attacks on civilians,” said State Department Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

She told lawmakers she was planning to visit the country soon with U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Samantha Power.

Central Africa spiraled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew President Francois Bozize.

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